San Marcos City Council Place 4 Candidates Participate In Four Rivers Association Of Realtors Debate

San Marcos City Council Place 4 Candidates Participate In Four Rivers Association Of Realtors Debate

“I don’t think anyone else has been up this stage so far is a renter. I am, so I know what that’s like. Living in an apartment, not being a homeowner, the perspective that I have that we don’t currently have on our council,” Spell said. 

By, Terra Rivers, Managing Editor

On Tuesday, September 25, the Four Rivers Association of Realtors partnered with the San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce to host the first debate for candidates for San Marcos City Council at the activity center in San Marcos.

Ten individuals filed to run in the November 2018 Election; residents will vote for the Mayor and City Council places 4, 5 and 6.

Hays County Candidates were in attendance to give opening remarks before the debate began. However, two candidates were unable to attend: Omar Baca, Candidate for County Commissioner Precinct Four, and County Commissioner, Mark Jones.

In order to allow all City Council candidates to speak, Hays County candidates did not answer any questions during the debate.

City council candidates were asked 3 questions and given 90 seconds to respond. Place 5 candidate Mark Gleason did not attend the event due to a prior commitment with Planning and Zoning Commission.

City Council Place 4

  • Shane Scott
  • Griffin Spell
  • Mark Rockeymoore

The Four Rivers Association of REALTORS® is a 501(c)6 non-profit membership organization established in 1960.  Its current configuration includes a merger that represents members from the former New Braunfels/Canyon Lake Association of REALTORS®, Seguin Board of REALTORS®, and San Marcos Area Board of REALTORS®.

The event was held from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM. The annual debate allows members to meet the candidates for the upcoming November election.

Below are the questions and answers given to City Council Place 4 candidates.

FIRST QUESTION: In the past few years, the terms bailout, nepotism, and special deal have been thrown around when discussing actions of City Council. As a member of City Council, you would oversee and approve the annual budget totaling over $200,000,000. Briefly describe your budget priorities and how you would ensure fair and transparent procedures.

Place 4 Candidate Shane Scott

I believe that we actually passed a fair and transparent ordinance back when which allowed everybody to see how we operate as a government.

We even have a program that lets you can look online to see where all monies are going, how it’s spent and basically how much basically, not the exact price everybody gets but a pretty good amount of their estimation what they spent.

I think in constant practice right now, I think that’s gonna continue to be in practice. I think that making sure that our youth programs, arts programs, our education assistance programs are definitely on the budget as well.

I can’t think of a whole lot because there’s so many things that have to be paid for first that you have roughly about $250,000 after each thing’s paid for to work and appropriate to different things so it varies each year, depending what needs the most at the time.

Place 4 Candidate Griffin Spell

Years ago, we had an organization called Open San Marcos. I was involved in that. I think both Mayoral candidates are involved that organization. That pushed for…10 time frame. That made some changes, pushed for some changes to the process, things like requiring that the budget was publicly available at the library for anyone who wanted a copy.

Could look at the budget and see that process. The budget process starts all the way in January. It’s a long process that runs from January all the way, we just had the budget approved unanimously in September of this year. So it’s a long drawn out process, and there’s public meetings, there’s budget workshops that are open to the public.

There’s public testimony. We had a, for example, a group that wanted to add money to the budget for a no kill, for the animal shelter. And they were to speak in public session and get something that they thought was a first step for them, but they were able to get from a public process.

You know with our budget I think what the question, what they are talking about, those are things that are not part of the budget, the special deals so called. I think we need to be careful when we have deals when we have projects, when we have…come up where it’s a land deal or something that under the public session.

We have to make sure that we are being even handed. We’re not just giving a one property owner a deal or a bargain. First off, we have this all in public session and the big second thing is we make sure that we’re being even handed, that everybody gets the same deal. A city government has to be responsive to the public and has to be fair and balanced.

Place 4 Candidate Mark Rockymoore

Budget priorities. Well, how long has it been since the last flood? It’s been a couple years. Well, according to  meteorologist and climatologist, El Ninos occur generally between six, four and seven years, and it’s been two years since the last flood. The last that I read and heard we have an El Nino that is scheduled for this fall and into the spring, which means that it’s quite possible that we will be experiencing that same floods this coming spring.

For me, my primary budget consideration that I think is most important is protecting the city of San Marcos. Protecting the residents, protecting the land that is along the river, protecting those developed areas that are along the river, and protecting the neighborhoods that are historically flood prone.

So for me that’s number one as far as the budget priority is concerned. I know the city has done a lot in that area and continues to work very hard in that area, but as we move forward into the future, this issue is not going away.

Devastating floods are only going to get worse because the climate is shifting and we have to prepare for that as we turn into a arid region rather than a semi-arid region which we are now.

So this is something that is going to happen in a lot of our life times. So preparing the city of San Marcos for that in the future is a primary budget concern as far as I’m concerned.

Also, I think that a lot of development issues, a lot of the neighborhood issues that we’re dealing with right now are very, very important to resolve because we have a lot of people who are very afraid.

Are we gonna grow up or are we gonna grow out? Are we gonna do both? You know, it looks like we’re gonna have to do a little something about all of that and in all of those areas. It’s necessary. It’s manageable. We want people to be happy, but San Marcos is gonna grow.

SECOND QUESTION: The environmental resources of this city are one of our greatest assets: the river, the Recharge Zone etc. Developments continue to encroach on these resources. Often times opponents of these projects say that these developments should not be approved as they will only destroy these resources. Improvements in technology and development methods, especially with respect to storm water collection and treatment have vastly improved and continue to improve and evolve. These new methods have been scientifically tested and proven to protect natural resources often times better than if a property remained vacant and undeveloped. Do you believe developments in environmentally sensitive areas that implement all appropriate available measures to protect our environmental resources should be approved?

Place 4 Candidate Griffin Spell

That one’s a doozy. You know, I think we have Code SMTX we just adopted in April is based on a lot of the things that we’ve had on prior councils where we’ve had projects that had been passed and then turns out they were worse than expected.

So we had a lot of experiences gone into our new code, and we’re just now seeing actually planning and zoning actually looking at tonight the first set of reviewing changes to Code SMTX to try and adapt that so somebody in the council is going to be dealing with the next few years.

Basically our code I think, Code SMTX is a improvement on what we’ve had before. I thought we needed our code modernized and I’m glad we did that. I’m glad that it was able to get passed and approved to try to mitigate those issues we’ve had for example.

I’ll bring you an example, we had Mystic Canyon come along as a project under Code SMTX. There were people that spoke in opposition. One of them was a good friend of mine, but I felt like that project was a good project. I felt that that was a development that was a … We had been talking for years about San Marcos wanting single family homes. We had been talking for years about wanting those types of projects. So, I’m hopeful that project will go forward and Mr. King will get approved in the future.

And so we definitely need to make sure with our land development code that we are trusted in San Marcos to follow our code, to follow our ordinances. We want to make sure we are responsive to public input, want to make sure we’re responsive to citizen comment period, but we have a written ordinance that we make sure we follow that we make sure we enforce that. I think that would be one of my goals in the future is to make sure that San Marcos is stressed to follow its land development code.

Place 4 Candidate Mark Rockymoore

As developers, in the city of San Marcos, you guys deal with land every single day. San Marcos is the oldest continuously inhabited location in all of North America. This land that we are on is sacred land to native peoples.

The waters that we protect are home to a space that people have inhabited forever. So, it is a sacred trust for us to protect this land, to make certain that any development that we engage in is sustainable.

But not only sustainable, but also regenerating and I know a lot of you have that at heart because you love this place; your families are here. This is the place where you want your children to grow up, where they have grown up, and where you feel your future lies. And we want a safe and secure future.

So as people who love this place and love what San Marcos is about, what it represents, the joy and the happiness that people gain from being here. This is something that we’re all invested in, no matter what our political stripes are, no matter we each individually believe about the future of this nature, our place in it.

This is something that we can agree on. That the springs have to be protected at all costs. Because they’re not ours. This is an intergenerational trust and we’re passing on to the future.

Place 4 Candidate Shane Scott

The question is whether we have enough technology for bio filters to actually capture any growth development that could actually damage our natural resources.

The answer is yes. We should be able to build in these areas that allow … Follow the code basically that we’ve been working on for years to make sure that we have these safeties built into our community.

There’s always a debate about whether you should build over something or not, but I mean the scientists, the councils, the community have put so much energy into this to make sure that there is not an issue and that we are following the necessary guidelines to protect our environment because there’s nobody here that wants to destroy the river, our aquifer … Or they wouldn’t live here to begin with. We’re very protective.

That’s like a no brainer. So for when people bring that up as a point, I’m kind of like, well you know, how about why don’t we worry about how we’re not gonna pollute it, and how we are still gonna grow, and where everybody’s gonna fit and how we’re gonna be able to work as a community to still have our river, to still have the growth and not have to worry that every time something gets approved we have to get beat over the head as a council member or an elected official. You know that a certain group did not want this particular asset.

I think we have a very responsible set of ordinances and rules now. I think we just need the right responsible people up there on city council now that have experience, that have seen this growth and are ready to work for the community as a whole and not pick and choose what they decide. Thank you.

THIRD QUESTION: What is your stance on mandatory rental registration?

Place 4 Candidate Mark Rockymoore

Everybody’s concerned with that, right? Mandatory rental registration. It sounds kind of scary. I think our mayor and councilwoman Jane Houston had a really positive and enlightening discussion about that just a few minutes ago. I think that in light of the recent fire at the Iconic.

It is important that we do know who’s where, and we need to know whether or not those houses have everything that they need in order to protect the people who live there because we don’t want something like that to occur and then it ends up somebody passes away and then there’s all kinds of liability, all kinds of lawsuits going left, right, back and forth and into the wind.

So, I do think that rental registration is something that we can consider as a city council but of course we would only do so after hearing the opinions and thoughts of every interested party.

Place 4 Candidate Shane Scott

Rental registration, I’m not a big fan of rental registration. It’s a rights thing. I’m a rights guy. I don’t think the government should be telling you what to do with your property, but at the same tone, our responsibility lies with our community as well. Your taxes keep going up because we have to pay somebody to clean up somebody’s mess.

Every piece of property that is owned, you’re responsible for it. If I go on your piece of property and break my leg, who am I gonna call? You or somebody else? Your liability insurance is only gonna cover the person who owns the property.

So there’s actually legalities behind knowing who owns the property, which is good, but a mandatory registration is not something I would focus on. It would be more of by application, who’s complaining? Who’s in trouble? The more of a service for the people who are using the property to be able to complain as opposed to the government stepping in.

Place 4 Candidate Griffin Spell

I don’t think anyone else has been up this stage so far is a renter. I am, so I know what that’s like. Living in an apartment, not being a homeowner, the perspective that I have that we don’t currently have on our council.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that we should have some sort of registration that is limited. Things like where is the unit located at, how many units are there, how many bedrooms are in a unit.

What I have a problem with, is we cannot allow this to turn into a rental tax. We cannot have a round about way of using registration and using registration fee to turn that into a rental tax.

You know because what will end up happening is that will just pass on to our renters and the cost to rent in San Marcos has been going up every year for the past 10 years.

That’s unfortunate reality that we are in a housing crisis in central Texas. We cannot be creating a rental tax. We cannot afford to make it hard to rent an apartment in San Marcos.


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